Author Archives: WineGuyMike

The Tasting Room Presents In The Footsteps Of Norman Maclean Festival

In The Footsteps Of Norman Maclean Festival

In The Footsteps Of Norman Maclean Festival

This year marks the 25th Anniversary of that movie that made Montana famous worldwide, A River Runs Through It. This year is also the 2nd Annual celebration of In The Footsteps Of Norman Maclean Festival, a literary festival, that is hosted by Alpine Artisans. Alpine Artisans is a not-for-profit organization that supports rural education by bringing Arts, Culture, Musical, and Theatrical experiences to rural schools in the Seeley, Swan, and Blackfoot Valleys of Western Montana.

The Story Of The Blackfoot Video

In The Footsteps Of Norman Maclean Festival takes place every other year and has been a huge success thanks to the Alpine Artisans, some of whom I happen to know personally. This organization and its members have a passion for providing arts, culture, music, and education to rural schools in the beautiful Seeley, Swan, and Blackfoot Valleys. These 3 Valleys are home to many multi-generation families whose properties were homesteaded by 3 or 4 generations prior. There are many relative newcomers to this pristine area in Western Montana, many whom are very accomplished and have experienced life, arts, and culture in the major metropolitan areas from which they have relocated to the beauty that is Montana.

The Footsteps Festival is a 3-day event packed with activities culminating in Missoula at The Wilma Theater with a showing of A River Runs Through It. Actor Tom Skerritt, who played Reverend Maclean in the movie A River Runs Through It, Patrick Markey, Producer of the film, and Richard Friedenberg will all be there for the showing of this beloved film.

In The Footsteps Of Norman Maclean Festival 2017 Video

Visit the festival website for details of all three days of activities or download the entire program right here; festival program.

Wine Guy Mike Wine Tasting at the Norman Maclean Festival

Wine Guy Mike Wine Tasting at the Norman Maclean Festival

WineGuyMike will be leading a wine tasting Saturday evening, September 9th, at the historic Double Arrow Resort. This tasting will include a flight of 5 wines selected by Missoula wine expert, Wine Guy Mike, and hors d’oeuvres from the Double Arrow Lodge Executive Chef Clayton. Tickets are available for this outstanding event right here, Wine Tasting Tickets.

Don’t miss this one of a kind special weekend, In The Footsteps Of Norman Maclean.

From my table to yours,

The Final Chapter Of Valentine’s Destiny With TRIbella Wine

Rob and Miranda are headed to the Chapel and are going to get married!

Rob and Miranda are headed to the Chapel and are going to get married!

This last Valentine’s Day I wrote an article titled, “Valentine Serendipity From Our Friends At TRIbella.” This was a story of friendship, love, and serendipitous fate that acknowledged the life long friendship of TRIbella inventor Skip Lei and long-time friend and business partner Tom Beehler. This story that received a great deal of attention also paralleled a story of fate, love, and destiny.

The TRIbella wine aerator is for those of us who use and love this must have tool #ThePerfectPour but the ending to this story of love and fate is more than Tom Beehler could have imagined.  If you missed the first part of this story from the previous article I recommend you click on the link above and read that story first.

TRIbella Aerator and Case

TRIbella Aerator and Case

Rob and Miranda are the young man and women that Tom attempted to introduce on three separate occasions, but it never materialized. If you read the previous article you would understand that Rob and Miranda had a meeting of fate, one of true destiny that Tom Beehler could have never imagined.

Tom not only is great when it comes to #ThePerfectPour with the TRIbella aerator but as it turns out Tom has a real knack when it comes to #ThePerfectPairing! Rob and Miranda whom Tom tried his darndest to introduce met all on their own and as destiny has it are engaged to be married.

My friend Tom got it right with TRIbella and life and for that, I am eternally grateful. Why you might ask, well the young lady, Miranda, in this story of love and destiny is my daughter. Her mother and I couldn’t be more pleased to soon have Rob as our son-in-law. As for Tom, he is known in our family circle as the connector of the Universe. Thank you, Tom Beehler!

I hope everyone will enjoy the end of this love story as much as Rob’s family, the Beehler family, and my family have. Cheers to all of you who may be reading this story!

From my table to yours,

The Tasting Room Presents Writers’ Fall Opus – Connoisseur’s Edition

Writers' Fall Opus - Connoisseur's Edition

Writers’ Fall Opus – Connoisseur’s Edition

The Tasting Room is a weekly show on KFGM, Missoula Community Radio. and is hosted by Missoula’s Wine Guy Mike.  The show airs live from 12:00-1:00 MDT on 105.5 FM or you can stream live at KFGM online.

Yesterday on The Tasting Room, a weekly program hosted by Wine Guy Mike, Kevin Head co-owner of The Rhino in beautiful Downtown Missoula, Montana stopped by the radio studio to share a very special event he is co-hosting with The University of Montana Creative Writing Program.

Kevin is a graduate of Creative Writing at The University of Montana and this event has special meaning for him. The Writers’ Fall Opus “Connoisseur’s Edition” is a benefit event whose proceeds benefit The University of Montana Creative Writing Programs, student scholarships, literary journals, and the programs visiting writer series.

This event is one you will not want to miss, ticket prices may seem steep but this may be the most prolific event of its kind. There will be an amazing array of Scotch, Cognac, a very special Gin, and wines that most of us will never purchase due to the rarity and prices. For that very reason alone this event is worth attending but this benefit is crucial to support the UM Creative Writing Program.

Tickets are $200 and may be reserved in advance or purchased at the door. Tables of 8 can be purchased for $1200.  This year the event will be held on the second floor of Missoula College’s new River Campus, located off East Broadway, and doors open at 6 p.m.

Here is a sample beverage list for this Writers’ Fall Opus “Connoisseur’s Edition.”

Connoisseur's Edition Scotch

Connoisseur’s Edition Scotch

Scotch
• Brora 37 yr.
• Bowmore 38yr. 1968
• Macallan 18yr. Gran Reserva 1979
• Lochside – 40yr. Signatory 1966
• Ardbeg “Provenance” 54.7%
• Auchentoshan 29yr. 1973
• Bunnahabhain “Auld Aquaintance” 34yr. 1968
• Mortloch 1980 G&M
• Miltonduff 38yr.
• Glen Grant 50yr.
• Linkwood 26yr.
• Glenrothes 30yr. G&M
• Springbank 33yr. Adelphi
• Glenmorangie “Culloden” 1971
• Glenfarclas 1979 Family Cask
• Highland Park “Hjarta” 58.1%
• Port Ellen 26yr. 1979 Old Bothwell
• Glenmorangie “Burr Oak”

Japanese
• Karuizawa 1986 cask# 1387
• Nikka 1986

Irish
• Jameson 2007 Rarest Vintage Reserve

Cognac
• Hennessey Paradis Extra
• Remy Martin Louis XIII

Gin
• Rolet

Connoisseur's Edition Wine

Connoisseur’s Edition Wine

Wine – Red
• Chateau de Beaucastel Grande Cuvee “Hommage a Jacques Perrin” 2007
• Paul Hobbs Cab. Sauv. 2012 “Beckstoffer/Dr. Crane”
• Caymus Cab. Sauv. 2012 “Special Selection”
• Opus 2012
• Joseph Phelps 2012 “Insignia”
• L’Aventure Estate Cab. Sauv. 2007
• L’Aventure 2013 Estate Cuvee

Please consider attending this very worthwhile benefit and for more information please contact Karin Schalm at (406) 243-5267 or karin.schalm@mso.umt.edu

From my table to yours,

The Many Shades And Styles Of Rosé Wine

Rosé Wine

Rosé Wine on the Clark Fork River in Western Montana

Rosé wine may be a Summer passion in Europe but in America, the dreaded “Pink Wine” is still a hot topic of disagreement amongst American wine lovers. In the Dog Days of a hot Summer like we are experiencing in Western Montana this year drinking one of The Many Shades And Styles Of Rosé Wine may be the next best thing to drinking Kool-Aid as a kid on a hot Summer day.

Kool-Aid

A Kid’s Best Friend on a Hot Summer Day, Kool-Aid

Wine Styles

Wine is a journey and it has recently occurred to me in recent months that the way I view and share wine is very than my viewpoint in the past.

As grapes change with every new season so do the things I feel are important for me to share with you about wine.  This is what I love most about wine, it is ever changing, it evolves and I can never know it all but with every sip, I try to keep pace with it.

Today on The Tasting Room I would like to share a few thoughts that I consider to be important in understanding wine.  In decades past wines frequently emulated the most popular version of trendy or fashionable wine.  For example, many wine lovers expected a Pinot Noir to be just like that from Burgundy or a Cabernet Sauvignon to always be similar to a Napa Valley Cabernet.

Today’s wineries and winemaker from around the world are trying to craft their wines in a manner to express the truth of their vineyards or what the French refer to as Terroir, or translated, a sense of place.

The sense of place encompasses weather, elevation, slope location, surrounding biodynamic environment, grapevine strain a.k.a “clone”, and the geologic makeup of what lies under the ground below.

Viticulturists, who are the grape farmers, and the winemakers both strive for quality of fruit because they are very clear that great wines are made in the vineyard.  Producing quality fruit is critical in producing great wines, capturing truth in wine, a true sense of sense of place, exhibiting restraint in winemaking, power, and balance in the fruit.

What’s next is what’s not. Restraint, that’s right, today’s best winemakers are practicing less is more.  Beginning with farming practices Organic and Bio-dynamic farming is becoming more common place in viticulture and as a result, the fruit is not over developed nor full of chemicals.  During fermentation stages, winemakers are working with more native yeasts which allow for wines that express a better sense of place.  Winemakers are also striving for clean wines that exude balance through a hands off approach, not over manipulated.

Balance in wine makes reference to a wine that is equal in fruit, acid, and alcohol.  Gone are the days of wines showcasing overbearing fruit or alcohol exceeding a high 14 percent.  It just doesn’t work well with food and drunk by itself can be too big a wine exhibiting entirely too much fruit.

When you consider different wine regions from around the world you cannot compare them.  A Pinot Noir from Burgundy is different from a Russian River Valley Pinot which is different from a Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot that is vastly different from a Napa Valley Pinot Noir in California.  To the point, it is important to understand what a wines particular sense of place really is.  Only then are you able to equitably evaluate the quality of wines from particular areas?

Wines today are what I refer to as “stylistic” and it’s important to note that wines from various regions display very different nuances of aroma, flavor, and tactile sensations.  Discovering what you like in a wine and what region of the world it’s from is important to understand.  Establishing a basis and perspective of a given area allows you to more fairly evaluate wine varietals from that region.

When you become familiar with an area there are a few very important things to consider when tasting a wine; is the wine simple, so simple that it lacks depth or dimension?  Is the wine complex with layers of aroma when you smell it?  Does the wine offer multiple layers of flavor your palate when you taste it?

A wine that has been overly refined to the point it is so smooth that it has lost its character is a wine that a winemaker has had their way with.  Heavy handed and overly manipulated to the point that a wine exudes no character or personality, the wine has been rendered uninteresting, a real dullard.  The winemaker was not restrained and perhaps lost their way….

All About Rosé Wine

Rosé Wine From Adelsheim Vineyard

Rosé Wine From Adelsheim Vineyard

Provence in the south western grape growing region of France was the first to produce Rosé wine.  Romans were the first to control this area of the world and it wasn’t until the later Middle- Ages that Monks re-established vineyards that were common to the area and began producing Rosé wine.  The wine was used for sacramental purposes in the Catholic church and to also financially support the various monastic orders.

Winemaking Technique

It was during the early 1970’s in California there was a glut of red grapes and a significant shortage of white grapes.  Winemakers incorporated a winemaking technique known as Saigneé which translated means the bleeding of the wine vats.  Consider for just a moment how gravy is made using the juices from the protein that have separated from the fat in the roasting pan.  This also occurs in wine vats as the heavy grape must separates from the grape juice which is much lighter.  By using the Saigneé method some winemakers from this era would make white wine by using red grapes.  This winemaking method allowed the juice and the must to remain together for a short period of time and then winemakers “bleed” off what then becomes Rosé wine.

A Traditional winemaking technique is also used to make Rosé wine.  Grape skins are left with the fruit for just a few days, thus producing a beautiful delicate pink color with a very little tannin like that found in red wine.

The third method that is generally not acceptable in most regions of the world is to add red wine back into white wine until the desirable coloration is achieved.

The term “Blush” Wine originates from the mid-70’s and made reference to a pale-pink wine but is now reserved for a sweet pink wine with a residual sugar of 2.5%.  In America most dry pink wines are marketed and sold as a Rosé while Europe refers to all pink wine as Rosé regardless of residual sugar levels, this includes imports from America that are semi-sweet.

Rosé is a wine style not a varietal of wine.  This is very important to understand as a consumer.  There are up to 11 types of Rosé wine styles currently being produced around the world.

Rosé of Provence

Rosé of Provence

Rosé of Pinot Noir

Rosé of Pinot Noir

Rosé of Grenache

Rosé of Grenache

Rosé of Tavel

Rosé of Tavel

Rosé of Mourvèdre

Rosé of Mourvèdre

Rosé of Malbec

Rosé of Malbec

Rosé of Tempranillo

Rosé of Tempranillo

Rosé of Syrah

Rosé of Syrah

Rosé of Sangiovese

Rosé of Sangiovese

Rosé of Zinfandel

Rosé of Zinfandel

Rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon

Type’s Of Rosé Wines(How They Are Made)

As a consumer, this can be very confusing when there is so little information about Rosé wines available.  Unfortunately, the general consensus amongst the less traveled wine drinker is that all “pink wine” is sweet, poorly made, and should not be drunk.  I say simply not true!

Rosé Wine in Summertime

Rosé Wine in Summertime

Rosé wine is thought of as seasonal, symbolic of hope and excitement that comes at the beginning of Spring and the sad end of Summer and all of its fond memories.  My good friend Bill Blanchard, the National Sales Manager for Adelsheim Vineyards in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, pointed out to me that he likes to hold back a case of good Rosé.  Bill feels that quality Rosé can last up to 2 years and still be enjoyable for the Christmas holiday season to share with friends and family at dinner.

Wines made in a Rosé style are perhaps some of the most versatile wines that are produced. Rosé wines pair very well with a wide array of foods such as Morbier and Mozzarella cheese, seafood, lite pasta dishes, summer salads, soups, grilled or roasted meats and poultry, they can be very tasty with some desserts too.

As a Wine Consumer Advocate, I consult with retail and bar establishments concerning their wine portfolios and menus, but one of my most important focuses is sharing and teaching consumers about wine.  It is for this very reason I love to share Rosé wine.  Quality Rosé style wine can be the entire package delivering the cool refreshment of white wine and delivering tender nuances of red wine.  Rosé wine done well can be a versatile tool for consumers to enhance their overall knowledge of wine.

The most important thing that a Rosé wine must offer though is perfect restraint, balance, and sense of style.  Rosé wine should be tender and delicate.  Delicate in color, aroma, and taste.  Tender as it graces the palate. If it is not this it is just another poorly made Rosé that lives up to or in this case down to the generally assumed consensus of this potentially great wine.

While teaching, I find that Rosé wine is the perfect conduit to introduce red wine lovers to white wine and white wine lovers to the bold world of red wine.  Could there possibly be a better wine introduction facilitator than a Rosé style of wine?

So what is a nice Rosé wine like?  For my money a perfect Rosé wine is chilled, not served too cold, it is pleasantly dry, not so dry that my tongue is stuck to the roof of my mouth, it is ever so delicate in color like that of an Alaskan Copper River Salmon, and will have the ever so mild aroma of “Strawberry Fields Forever”.

When tasting perfect Rosé it will grace your mid-palate, balanced with fruit, alcohol, and acid.  It presents flavors of very restrained nuance of strawberry and raspberry lingering in the background.  Other fruit driven or savory subtleties present in supporting roles as the various Rosé styles introduce themselves with a particular sense of place or as the French refer to as “terroir”.

Many of today’s winemakers produce Rosé exemplifying their wineries best sense of place.  We will all have our preference of Rosé styles, I want to urge you to be adventurous life is too short to not enjoy some great “Pink Wine!” Long live Rosé!

To learn more about wine or discover wines of impeccable character join me at www.WineGuyMike.com

From my table to yours,

 

Summer Is Coming Wine Event With Wine Guy Mike

Join me for Summer Is Coming Wine Event With Wine Guy Mike. Scratch Catering will be serving delicious Charcuterie and Cheese selections to enjoy with an adventurous flight of 5 wines. This event is sure to deliver an evening of fun and learning all about new wines!

Wine Guy Mike Wine Events

Wine Guy Mike Wine Events

Celebrate Summer with a flight of 5 distinct wines of character and world class cured meats and organic cheese selections.

Scratch Catering Chacuterie and Cheese Platters

Event Date: May 18th, 2017 From 6:30pm-9:30pm

Where: Katie O’Keefe’s 2100 Stephens Ave, Missoula, Montana 59801

Ticket Price: $25.00 per person and you must be 21 years of age to purchase tickets and attend the event.

Purchase Your Ticket Now by Clicking This Link:  

Price: $25.00  

Detail: Tickets must be purchased no later that May 17th at 12:00 Noon. If you would like to attend and are unable to purchase tickets online you are welcome to join in the fun by contacting Wine Guy Mike at mike@wineguymike.com or call or text (this is best) at           406-370-7162

I will hope to see you there for this great evening of fun and learn all about wine!

From my table to yours,

The Tasting Room Presents Justin Vajgert Of Reininger Winery

Wine Guy Mike

Wine Guy Mike

Live Stream The Tasting Room Click Here on KFGM 105.5 FM from 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm MDT

This week The Tasting Room presents Justin Vajgert of Reininger Winery in the Walla Walla Valley AVA.  Today’s guest is  Justin Vajgert, National Brand Sales Manager for the Reininger Winery and Helix wines. Today’s Podcast Click Here 

Justin Vajgert of Reininger Winery and Helix Wines

Justin Vajgert of Reininger Winery and Helix Wines

Justin and I are talking about the Walla Walla Valley area in Washington State and its wine. Walla Walla officially became an American Viticulture Area in 1984 but it was settled by Italian immigrants in the 1850’s who realized its potential to grow grapes. Chuck Reininger is the owner and head winemaker at Reininger Winery but first I want to give you a little background on today’s guest.

Chuck Reininger Head Winemaker of Reininger Winery

Chuck Reininger Head Winemaker of Reininger Winery

Justin’s background is a similar journey of many guests I have the pleasure of talking with on The Tasting Room. Justin grew up just outside of Chicago and relocated to the Walla Walla area in 2005 to attend the Institute for Viticulture and Enology. He worked the grape harvest in 2005 with Waterbrook Winery in Walla Walla. It was shortly thereafter that he joined forces with the Reininger Winery in November of 2005.

The Reininger Winery is located in the heart of the Walla Walla Valley. Head winemaker, Chuck Reininger, specializes in crafting elegant and finely structured red wines from hand-harvested, ultra premium grapes.

Reininger Winery tasting room in Walla Walla

Reininger Winery tasting room in Walla Walla

Glacial Lake Missoula was a prehistoric glacial lake in Western Montana that existed periodically at the end of the last ice age.  As warming periodically occurred Lake Missoula would flood carrying its alluvial soil matter to Washington State, and to the Walla Walla American Viticulture Area.

The Walla Walla area soils are composed of alluvial soil material and layers of volcanic ash from eruptions throughout history. These layers of soil and rock have created ideal soil conditions to grow grapes in.  The days are warm to hot and the night air is cool, perfect for growing world-class grapes that make fabulous wines.

Justin worked at Reininger Winery all through school doing everything from cellar work, to pouring wine in the tasting room, to painting bathrooms, when you work at a winery everyone does what needs to be done.

It was during Justin’s tenure that his roles evolved and he moved into a sales role beginning with local sales and then after the school moved into his current national sales position.  He’s been doing that ever since.  Distribution for the Reininger and Helix brands has grown to 17 states.  Justin eventually would like to make wine though, it’s his passion.

Let’s sit back and listen to my conversation with Justin Vajgert from the Reininger and Helix wine labels and learn a little more about these gems from Walla Walla.

Tasting Notes

The 2011 Reininger Merlot grapes are from the Pepper Bridge and Seven Hills Vineyards and are 100% Merlot. This wine has been barrel aged in 53% French, 47% American, and 5% new oak for 2 years.

2011 Reininger Merlot Walla Walla Valley

2011 Reininger Merlot Walla Walla Valley

This is a big, powerful, and robust Merlot, with very ripe fruit balanced by sweet oak spice from the French and American oak.  The fruit aromatics and flavors are of dark cherry, ripe plum, spicy tobacco, caramel and toasty oak. A touch of acidity lifts the fruit forward toward the end for a long, bright finish.

The Helix 2013 Pomotia is a blend of grapes from the Pepper Bridge, Phinny Hill, Seven Hills, Stillwater Creek, Stone Tree, Weinbau and XL vineyards. The blend is 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Syrah, 18% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc and has been barrel aged for 2 years. The nose is lovely and rich, sweet yet spicy, black currant, plum, cardamom, and violets an aroma that is downright captivating.

2013 Helix Pomatia Columbia Valley

2013 Helix Pomatia Columbia Valley

Its velvety texture bathes the palate with luscious black cherry and succulent dried dark fruit that’s stimulated by a soft yet vibrant acidity. On the finish, a gentle wave of focused fruit is a bobbing streak of perfumed wood spice impregnated with specs of loam. This wine is delicious!

The 2011 Helix Syrah is 100% Syrah; grapes are from the Phinny Hill, Stone Tree & Clifton Hill Vineyards, and is 100% Merlot. On the nose black currant, red berries, cherry, and a delicate sweetness.

2011 Helix Syrah Columbia Valley

2011 Helix Syrah Columbia Valley

The palate does not disappoint, rich and round with flavors of blue fruits and wonderful savory quality with a finish of tea and wet slate, this is a good thing. This wine has been barrel aged in 100% French Oak for 2 years.

I hope you enjoyed today’s wine program The Tasting Room. Please join me again next Sunday for a live interview with Boo Walker, Head of Global Sales and Marketing, and Author from Hedges Family Estate. Until then I will see you on the radio.

From my table to yours,

Rogue Creamery Cheese Monger Tom Van Voorhees on The Tasting Room

Wine Guy Mike

Wine Guy Mike

Today on The Tasting Room I am going to introduce you to Tom Van Voorhees, Cheese Monger for The Rogue Creamy located in Central Point, Oregon.

Live Stream The Tasting Room on KFGM 105.5 FM from 12:00 – 1:00MDT right here; http://tunein.com/radio/KFGM—Missoula-Community-Radio-s288054/?utm_source=tiEmbed&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=s288054

Today’s Podcast http://wp.me/P2JY6W-1jX

Tom Van Voorhees Cheese Monger at Rogue Creamery

Tom Van Voorhees Cheese Monger at Rogue Creamery

Tom and his wife relocated to Oregon from New York 10 years ago so Tom could begin his career as Cheese Monger at the Rogue Creamery. A Cheese Monger is the manager of the retail cheese department and they are responsible for managing the cheese inventory, selecting the cheese menu, purchasing, receiving, storing, and development of the cheese ripening. Tom has been officially recognized as the top Cheese Monger in the United States.

Tom and I have been friends for nearly 10 years now and I rely on him for cheese recommendations frequently. My catering company, Scratch Catering, serves Rogue Creamery cheese selections exclusively.

Rogue Valley AVA History

The Rogue Valley AVA wine history dates back to the 1840’s. European immigrants planted grapes and eventually bottled wines.  In 1852, an early settler, Peter Britt, began growing grapes and in 1873 founded Valley View Winery, Oregon’s first official winery.

A professor from Oregon State University planted an experimental test vineyard in the Rogue Valley AVA in 1968 and discovered this region was a great place to grow grapes and in 1972 the Wisnovsky family renewed the Vally View Winery namesake for their winery label.

There are four main growing areas in the Rogue Valley AVA, Bear Creek Valley, Illinois Valley, the Valley of the Rogue, and the Applegate Valley which in itself is its own AVA. Overall there are 16 federally approved AVA’s or viticulture growing areas in Oregon. The Rogue Valley AVA covers 1.15 million acres of intermountain valley area in Southern Oregon.

The Rogue Valley AVA Grape Varietals

Del Rio Vineyards from the Rogue Valley AVA

Del Rio Vineyards from the Rogue Valley AVA

Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay are the major grape varietals that are predominant.  There are three valleys that have progressively warmer microclimates providing the Rogue Valley the diversity for growing both warm and cool climate grape varietals.  Pinot Noir is grown to the west as this microclimate is influenced by mountain and ocean winds that cool the area and to the east, the warm weather varieties thrive.  Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sauvignon Blanc grow in the hills at elevations of nearly 2,000 feet producing grapes with concentrated fruit and sugar.

History of Rogue Creamery

The Rogue Creamery history spans nearly eight decades. Italian immigrant Tom Vella who had settled in the Sonoma, California area set his sights on the Rogue Valley as an area of opportunity to found a creamery. When Tom arrived it was small farms and pear orchards and the main industry was lumber. Tom was a visionary and entrepreneur opening the small creamery during the Depression, a gutsy move considering the lack of economic climate in the United States. Tom’s goal was to grow the creamery as fast as possible in order to provide employment and sustain the area’s small farms.  The farmers supported Tom in his endeavor.

The Southern Pacific Rail line that ran from Los Angeles, California to Seattle, Washington passed through Medford which is the larger city located right next to Central Point.  Passengers traveling between San Francisco, California and Seattle stopped to enjoy theatrical performances at the historic Holly Theatre.

Rogue Creamery Cheese Selections

Rogue Creamery Cheese Selections

The Rogue Creamery flourished during the Depression and provided significant amounts of Cheddar cheese for the troops that fought in World War II.  After the war, the Rogue Creamery changed focus and was retooled to serve civilian markets. Cottage cheese was very successfully introduced to the consumer market and served as the transition for the Rogue Creamery to become the premier producer of Blue Cheese that it is today.

Inspired by the success of the Cottage cheese Tom Vella knew he needed to grow his product base and Blue Cheese was on Tom’s radar. As the wise entrepreneur that he was, he decided to go right to the source of the best Blue Cheese in the world, Roquefort, France. It was there that Tom and his wife spent the summer of 1955. Tom’s good fortune, talent, and fluency in Italian opened many doors. The Roquefort Association, although shrouded in secrecy, welcomed Tom when he spoke to the supervisor of the facilities in the man’s native dialect. Presented with a gold pass signed by all functionaries of the Society, Tom toured operations from farms to cheese factories to the curing limestone caves at Cambalou. At summer’s end, Tom departed France with plans for a Roquefort type cheese factory, already producing Oregon Blue in his imagination.  Construction began in Central Point in 1956.

Tom envisioned caves similar to the environment of Cambalou and designed a building to duplicate that atmosphere.  Two Quonset-shaped half circled rooms of cement were poured, one over the other, with space in between for insulation. The result was a true cave-like atmosphere.

Rogue Creamery Retail Store

Rogue Creamery Retail Store

Production of blue began in early 1955, instant success validated Vella’s business acumen.  This was the first blue cheese produced in caves west of the Missouri River. Over the years Vella’s dedication to quality was unwavering to the end as was his enthusiasm for the business and the Rogue Valley.  He died on December 23, 1998, at age 100.

The Rogue Creamery was inherited by Tom’s family and his son Ignazio who became the driving force behind the creamery.  Ignazio’s reputation as “The Godfather of the artisan cheese industry” really says it all.  Ig, as he was known, stayed on as a mentor to current owners David Gremmels and Cary Bryant who are now the senior cheese makers.

Ig, Cary, and David

Ig, Cary, and David

Today, the Rogue Creamery is thriving. Gremmels and Bryant have steadfastly held to the principles laid out by Tom and Ig Vella. The creamery’s Mission Statement; An artisan cheese company, with people dedicated to service, sustainability and the art and tradition of making the world’s finest handmade cheese.

Rogue-River-Blue Cheese-with-certificates

Rogue-River-Blue Cheese-with-certificates

In the first two years under the leadership of Gremmels and Bryant, the Creamery had won numerous trophies and awards, including World’s Best Blue Cheese at the 2003 World Cheese Awards in London, a first for a U.S. creamery.

The Rogue Creamery produces some of the finest blue and cheddar cheese selections in the world. They are Certified Organic and are quickly headed to also being Certified Biodynamic. Here are a few cheese pairing tips from Cheese Monger Tom Van Voorhees.

Cheese Pairing Tips

Pairing Tips; Pair regional foods, wine, and beer together. Pair light colored wines and beers with fresh cheeses. Wines higher in tannin exaggerate flavors in cheese ie. fat, sharpness, sweetness and animal flavors.  Dessert wines pair nicely with cheeses that have a salty, sharp or bitter flavor.

Rogue Creamery Smokey Blue Cheese

Rogue Creamery Smokey Blue Cheese

  1. BLUE CHEESE; Generally pairs well with full-bodied red wines, or sweeter whites such as Gewürztraminer or late harvest dessert wine and Port is classic wine and cheese pairing.
  2. CHEDDAR; Generally pairs well with medium to dry white and red wines, especially the sharp and extra-sharp cheddars. Flavored cheddars, usually at the mild or medium level, will expand the selections in both categories of wine.  Don’t forget the beers – cheddars are classic companions to a variety of ales, stouts, and lagers.
  3. CURDS; Very light in traditional cheese characteristics; the flavoring agents become prevalent in the flavored varieties.  Curds pair well with most beers, and with lighter white and red wines.

It has been great having Tom Van Voorhees join me in The Tasting Room today and even better sampling the world-class cheese selections from the Rogue Creamery!

From my table to yours,